LAW & IGNORANCE

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Sep 182006
 
Authors: Geoff Johnson The Rocky Mountain Collegian

On Monday, 219 years and one day had passed since the founding fathers signed the constitution.

Ellen Steiner, president of the CSU Democrats and a senior social work major, was hopeful Monday about students’ knowledge of the Constitution, namely the Bill of Rights, which outlines the first 10 amendments.

“I would hope people have a general knowledge of it,” she said. “Because that is something our country was built on.”

Intimate knowledge of these amendments did seem to be in shortage Monday afternoon in the Lory Student Center.

Junior English education major Brittany Pederson was shown the text of the first amendment.

“That’s the thing they quote when they want to talk on the free speech log outside,” she said.

Junior English education major Mandi Credle, a friend of Pederson, asked, “Is it part of the Bill of Rights?”

Sophomore Bradley Sutton, studying English and philosophy, was on the right track when she said, “It’s something we based the Bill of Rights on,” but she failed to identify the text.

“It’s the fourth amendment,” said Leah Houle upon inspection, a senior Spanish and math education major.

Some students did seem to be clear about the Bill of Rights and what it includes, at least in parts.

Senior civil engineering major Chris Turnbull-Grimes identified the first and several others right off the bat. Then, he was stumped.

“I’m a U.S. history geek,” Turnbull-Grimes said, troubled. “I should know these. The second is the right to bear arms. The seventh is the right to trial by jury.”

“I think it’s a pretty big problem that people, myself included, don’t know these things,” he added. “This is what our way of life is based on.”

The LSC crowd, Turnbull-Grimes included, did seem to be largely knowledgeable, however, with regards to the Fifth Amendment. Almost all who answered this question cited TV crime dramas as their source.

“The fifth is that you can’t be made to testify against yourself in court,” Houle said. “I know that from ‘Law and Order.'”

Though unsure, Pederson also nailed the most commonly identified meaning of the fifth.

“Is that where you don’t have to say anything to incriminate yourself?”

Credle chimed in, “Yeah, from T.V., ‘you have the right to remain silent.'”

Staff writer Geoff Johnson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

To find out about the United States Constitution, visit:

http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/constitution/

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